Today I Learned in Science (TIL)

TIL Learned Fun and Weird Science Facts

Science holds many mysteries, but sometimes these are facts other people already know that are news to you. Here is a collection of "today I learned" science facts that may surprise you.

You could survive a couple of minutes in space without a spacesuit.
As long as you don't hold your breath, you could survive a couple of minutes in space without a spacesuit. Steve Bronstein, Getty Images

Oh, you can't set up house in space and live happily ever after, but you can endure exposure to space for about 90 seconds without a suit with no lasting harm. The trick is: don't hold your breath. If you hold your breath, your lungs will explode and you're a goner. You can survive the experience for 2-3 minutes, although you might suffer frostbite and a nasty sunburn. How do we know this? There have been experiments on dogs and chimps and some accidents involving people. It isn't a pleasant experience, but it doesn't have to be your last. More »

This color wheel shows the visible spectrum of light plus magenta.
This color wheel shows the visible spectrum of light, wrapped around to include the additive color, magenta. Gringer, public domain

It's true. There is no wavelength of light that corresponds to the color magenta. When your brain is presented with a color wheel running from blue to red or you see a magenta object, it averages wavelengths of light and presents you with a value you can recognize. Magenta is an imaginary color. More »

03
of 07

Canola Oil Does Not Come From a Canola Plant

Canola oil does not come from a canola plant.
This is a picture of canola oil and rapeseed flowers. Canola oil does not come from a canola plant. Creativ Studio Heinemann, Getty Images

There is no canola plant. Canola oil is a type of rapeseed oil. Canola is short for 'Canadian oil, low acid' and describes rapeseed cultivars that produce low erucic acid rapeseed oil and low glucosinolate meal. Other types of rapeseed oil are green and leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

04
of 07

All the Planets Could Fit Between the Sun and Moon

Apollo 8 view of Earth-rise from Moon orbit.
Apollo 8 view of Earth-rise from Moon orbit. NASA

Planets are huge, especially gas giants, yet distances in space are vast. If you do the math, all of the planets in the solar system could line up between the Earth and Moon, with space left over. It doesn't even matter whether you consider Pluto a planet or not.

05
of 07

Ketchup Is a Non-Newtonian Fluid

Tapping ketchup changes its viscosity.
Tapping ketchup changes its viscosity. Henrik Weis, Getty Images

One trick for getting ketchup out of a bottle is to tap the bottle with a knife. The tip works because the jarring force changes the viscosity of ketchup, allowing it to flow. Materials with constant viscosity are Newtonian fluids. Non-Newtonian fluids change their ability to flow under certain conditions.

06
of 07

Chicago Weighs 300 Pounds More in the Daytime

This is a view of the sun from the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT) on the Yohkoh satellite.
This is a view of the sun from the Soft X-Ray Telescope (SXT) on the Yohkoh satellite. NASA Goddard Laboratory

NASA's Sunjammer project seeks to harness the power of the Sun to move objects using the solar wind and a giant sail in much the same way as ships on the sea use terrestrial wind. How strong is the solar wind? By the time it reaches the Earth's surface, it pushes each square inch with about one-billionth of a pound of pressure. It's not a lot, but if you look at a large area, the force adds up. For example. the city of Chicago, taken as a whole, weighs approximately 30 pounds more when the sun is shining than after sundown.

07
of 07

There Is a Mammal That Has Sex Until It Dies

Antechinus Marsupial
Antechinus Marsupial. Achim Raschka

It's not news to you that animals die in the mating process. The female praying mantis bites the head off her mate (yes, there is a video) and female spiders have been known to snack on their paramours (yes, this is on video too). However, a fatal mating dance isn't exclusive to creepy-crawlies. The male black-tailed antechinus, an Australian marsupial, mates with as many females as it can until the physical stress kills it. You may have noticed there is a theme here. If there is dying to be done, it's the males who take the fall. This can be to provide nourishment (spiders) or to give the male the best chance to pass on his genes (mammals).

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Today I Learned in Science (TIL)." ThoughtCo, Jan. 8, 2016, thoughtco.com/today-i-learned-in-science-fun-facts-609451. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2016, January 8). Today I Learned in Science (TIL). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/today-i-learned-in-science-fun-facts-609451 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Today I Learned in Science (TIL)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/today-i-learned-in-science-fun-facts-609451 (accessed May 26, 2018).